Play: 'What Killed Lucero' Has Patchogue Premiere

Father of convicted killer spoke after the play.

The play based on the events of the 2008 fatal stabbing of Ecuadorean immigrant Marcelo Lucero by had its Patchogue premiere Tuesday night a.

Margarita Espada, the show’s creator and executive-artistic director of the Teatro Experimental Yerbabruja, Inc. theatre group, said that the play is an experimental work meant to open a dialogue about the racial tensions in Long Island communities.

“What Killed Marcelo Lucero?” is set with two backdrops of neighboring houses, depicting the backyards of two families, one American, the other Latino. The tension starts with the Americans complaining about their loud neighbors, citing racial stereotypes and using slurs. With each subsequent scene, conflict escalates and violence ensues.

While there are reenactments of several violent hate crimes, the scene depcting Lucero’s murder is delivered via dialogue just before the play’s climax. The performance ends in a clash of protesters from both sides, at which point Espada re-enters to break up the conflict and start the discussion portion of the play.

Espada introduced the panel that included Luis Valenzuela of the Long Island Immigration Alliance, Michele Lynch, Political Director of 1199 Service Employees International Union and Maryann Slutsky of the Long Island Wins campaign. The audience was encouraged to ask questions of the panelists and share their views on the issues of immigration, racial bias and hate crimes.

Robert Conroy, father of Jeffrey Conroy who was convicted of manslaughter for Lucero’s murder and , was in the audience and spoke during the forum. He apologized for his son and complimented the performance. Conroy said that he felt his son’s depiction in the media was unfair, specifically in regard to him being a “ringleader.”

Espada responded sympathetically saying that Conroy’s son was a victim of a political statement.

“It is a social and political issue, not a personal one,” Espada said.

An audience member after the show took an opposing view to Conroy's statement.

""The important thing to remember here is that Marcelo Lucero is the victim, not Jeff Conroy," said the audience member.

Dr. Olga Rios-Soria of St. Joseph’s Modern Languages Department said that the most important aspect of the play was to ensure that history did not repeat itself.

“It promotes community dialogue and brings a deeper understanding of racial tensions and alleviates them,” Soria said.

Updated 5/2, 3:21 p.m.

Jane April 30, 2011 at 04:34 PM
Right on, Marilyn!
Joe April 30, 2011 at 04:37 PM
Very well said, Marilyn. Our community has not forgotton. We must move forward. Pray for peace.
John Bogack May 01, 2011 at 03:27 PM
I do have reservations with those who want "to move on". First of all the reaction to the death of Marcelo Lucero is an ongoing wave and wishing it away it not going to make things go away. There is still a report from the Suffolk County Hate Crimes taskforce yet to be published. Plus an ongoing federal probe of the Suffolk County Police has not yet finished its job too. The Lucero family in addition has a variety of law suits against the parents of all the members of the gang that brought Marcelo Lucero to harm. And I believe there is also a law suit against the Village too for civil damages. This is not going to go away any time soon. What I am worried about is when those who say they want to move on is whether or not this is just more denial. What killed Marcelo Lucero? Quite a lot of things actually and apathy was one of those causes. And it's still going on. How could there be not a single venue for the play to be performed in Patchogue Village for instance? This play has been performed every where but the one place it ought to be seen. Until it has been I for one say it is not yet time to move on.
Joe May 01, 2011 at 09:17 PM
John, I said, "move forward". There is a huge difference between "move forward" and "move on". I agree that someone who wants to move on, could be in denial. But, moving forward, is positive, and suggests peace and thoughtfullness. Don't be so glum. Move forward.
John Bogack May 01, 2011 at 10:18 PM
It can't all be sweetness and light Joe. But I agree lets go foward. Somebody should open their doors so this play can have it's day in Patchogue Village and let people have their say at its end which is an interesting part of this theater experience. I went to the performance at St. Joseph's. The staging is minimal, the acting is earnest but no one is going to be up for a Tony award. What makes it work is involving the audience at the end by asking for feedback about the issues that are voiced by the actors. For me that is where the impact hit. It's thought provoking, and we have to think to find answers to the very hard, very enduring issue of racism that was not settled simply by jailing Jeff Conroy and the criminal gang that went to prison with him. There are a lot of people in Patchogue Village who do want to do that so actually I am pretty optimistic for the future.


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